Friday, 17 April 2015

TfB's winter round up

With the dark nights of winter a distant memory, you may be surprised to know that Transport for Buckinghamshire's winter season runs right up until the 14th April. Having just finished with the winter duties, here's a brief summary of the season from TfB.

We may not have encountered any prolonged severe weather events over the winter, but TfB still worked hard to keep the roads safe.

Previous winters have seen flooding and snow accumulations, however this season saw 196 hours of sunshine - the most UK winter sunshine hours since records began, back in 1929.

Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) monitors road temperatures from mid October until mid April and their gritter drivers are on call throughout. Five forecasts each day helped decision makers with the daily judgement call. Air temperatures, road temperatures, humidity and dew point were all monitored from stations around the county and the resultant decision saw gritter drivers being sent out on their routes across the county, or stood down if road temperatures were not forecast to drop below zero.

Each route used an average of 85 tonnes of salt, so decisions were not taken lightly. For this reason, separate decisions were made for the north and south of the county. 48 gritting runs were carried out in the north of the county, and 40 in the south. A total of 5500 tonnes of salt has been used through winter and 63,250 kilometres of road covered over the season.

Winter operations are a year round task, and managers are now making plans for the next season! Ordering salt and checking gritting routes as well as ensuring staff receive refresher training and updating plans will all be undertaken over the summer, ready for the start of the next season in October.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Council drive for value for money roadworks

As the County Council's current £25 million investment programme to improve roads begins, the focus is firmly on taking steps to achieve the best possible value for money for over 200 separate schemes planned for the coming year.

Working through its provider, Transport for Buckinghamshire, the Council already has strict controls in place to make sure all roadworks carried out deliver value for money and compare favourably with levels and standards being achieved nationally by other councils.

However, this year the Council is going a step further and subjecting £10 million of the programme to even more stringent market testing so that the best prices and standards can be achieved for local council taxpayers.

The County Council's Cabinet Member for Transportation, Ruth Vigor-Hedderly said it was an important part of her role to make sure proper value for money was being delivered.

She said, "We must remember this is public money and we have a duty to make sure we spent it as wisely as possible. This year we will be offering £10 million of work to a wider potential market. This means we can gain even more knowledge about the current marketplace and what options we might use for future roadworks. We are also arranging additional monitoring of roadworks to make sure work is delivered on time and to the quality standards we set.

"This year, we will be delivering the largest road surfacing programme since 2009 as we continue the task of getting our roads back in shape. The more we can stretch every penny of our resources, the more we can do on the ground.

Full details of the countywide programme are available at or follow TfB on Twitter @TfBalerts.

Grass Cutting Season Starts!

Working in partnership with Buckinghamshire County Council’s ongoing parish devolution project, Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) is responsible for cutting the majority of highway verges around the county so the travelling public can use the roads and pavements safely. Each season they cut over 30 million square metres of grass which includes verges in residential areas, rural roads and at road junctions. This amount of grass is roughly equivalent to cutting the lawns of approximately 71,000 homes, so is no small task for the organisation.

Urban grass cutting

This year, six cuts are planned to take place in urban areas across the county, which started on the 30 March with the first cut will take approximately 6 weeks to complete, The second cut will take approximately 5 weeks, and the remaining four cuts will take 4 weeks each, reflecting the normal grass growing rate through the cutting season.

Nine dedicated gangs will operate across the county, each gang cutting the equivalent of 4 football pitches every day. TfB has brought in new machinery, able to operate under a wider range of conditions including thicker and damper grass than in previous seasons. Grass cutting is still weather dependent, however, and therefore some flexibility in the programme may be required, with the safety of the operatives paramount.

Devolution to Parishes

A number of Parishes have signed an agreement to take over responsibility for a number of County Council activities, including their own urban grass cutting. In these Parishes, urban grass cutting programmes will be managed by the Parish, not TfB, although TfB will retain responsibility for rural grass cutting within all Parishes.

Twenty three parishes have signed agreements and a further 26 have committed to the scheme.

​Rural grass cutting

The grass is cut in rural areas to ensure traffic, pedestrians and road signs can be seen. This season, two cuts will be carried out, with a further cut taking place at bends and road junctions, specifically considering road safety. The first cut will take place in May/June, with the second in July/August. The further cut around junctions will take place in September/October 2015.

Roadside verges in the county provide a habitat for many rare species of flora and fauna, some of which are identified as areas of ‘special botanical interest’. These areas will not be cut between 1 March and the end of August so that plants can flower. In the autumn the verges will be cut to remove the deadheads and help spread the seeds.

TfB has issued some guidance for the public to help them get the best cut possible…

- Please do not park on grass verges;
- Please do not place stones or logs on verges as these can be dangerous;
- Please let TfB know about any junction where visibility is blocked by long grass/weeds or overgrown hedges.
- Contact TfB if you recognise any noxious weed such as Japanese Knotweed or Ragwort on the highway verge.
- Remove your wheelie bin from verges as soon as possible after it has been emptied.

Mike Freestone, Buckinghamshire County Council Director of Transport Services said, “TfB is set up with new machinery, a robust programme and a competent workforce, so we are set to ensure that the grass cutting is carried out efficiently, effectively and on programme. Please do not expect a ‘bowling green’ type cut, however, we must be realistic about the cutting process and understand that safety requirements such as visibility at junctions comes first.”

Information on TfB’s grass cutting programme, along with frequently asked questions, can be found on their website – The programme can also be found on their maps, where you can see the areas that have already been cut, and those programmed for a visit within the next 3 weeks -

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

£25 Million Road Resurfacing Programme Launch

The 1 April signalled the commencement of the major 2015/16 Countywide Road Surfacing Programme being delivered by Transport for Buckinghamshire on behalf of Buckinghamshire County Council.

£25m has been invested to improve the road network in 2015/16 and will incorporate over 220 schemes which will include both strategic routes and residential roads.

Treatment types have been determined by Transport for Buckinghamshire engineers, and will vary to meet the needs of each individual site.

This year’s programme commenced on the morning of 1 April on A41 Bicester Road to the west of Waddeston with pre-patching work in preparation for surface dressing treatment of the A41, which will take place during July 2015.

Mike Freestone, Director of Transport Services attended the launch event and stressed: "With a programme of this size, there will be unavoidable disruption on the network for which we apologise in advance, however we will ensure that we programme the most disruptive of the schemes during the school holidays. We will also carry out a significant amount of this work overnight which will help to minimise the effect of this programme on travelling public. A really important part of this year’s programme is that we have selected £10 million to be subject to market testing to better evaluate options for future works."

Simon Dando, Service Director for Transport for Buckinghamshire added: "This year we will be delivering the largest road surfacing programme since Transport for Buckinghamshire began in 2009 and we are delighted to be carrying out this work on behalf of the County Council. Please bear a thought for our gangs and contractors who will be working on the highway to make improvements for everyone. Unfortunately a minority of motorists are discourteous to our workforce, and even putting them in danger by driving at speed through traffic lights. Please give them the respect that they deserve whilst they carry out their important work."

Full details of the Countywide programme are currently being finalised and will be posted at - or follow us on Twitter @TfBalerts. Daily tweets will be sent to show where we are working. Residents and businesses affected by the works will be notified in advance of specific works taking place.

Notes to editors:

Programmes will be developed as the year progresses but are very weather dependent so subject to considerable change.
Transport for Buckinghamshire is a partnership alliance between Ringway Jacobs and Buckinghamshire County Council formed in 2009.

Next week we will be working at:
A41 Bicester Road, Kingswood and A41 Gallows Bridge Junction: Tuesday 7th April – Friday 17th April
Night time surfacing works carried out utilising a road closure in operation between 19:00 and 06:00hrs
Desborough Avenue, High Wycombe: Tuesday 7th April – Monday 13th April
Night time surfacing works carried out utilising a road closure in operation between 19:00 and 06:00hrs
There will be no weekend working unless otherwise stated.
• Budget of £45 million available over the next three years
• £25 million being used for 2015 / 2016, including £10 million that has been subject to market testing to better evaluate options for future programmes
• In excess of 200 roads will be treated in 2015 / 2016
• Roads chosen for treatment are a combination of those chosen by local Members, under guidance of TfB, and those shown by road condition survey data to require priority treatment.
• Depending on condition of road, the types of treatment used are:
o Surface dressing – Surface dressing is the most cost-effective way of extending the life of a road, as long as the surface has not already deteriorated too far. It is used to restore skid resistance and to seal cracks that may be in the used surface to stop water seeping into the road. Surface dressing also protects the road against the majority of damage caused by severe winter weather.
o Micro-surfacing – Micro surfacing is a fast, effective and economical way to preserve and protect the road and pavement surface and is generally used where surface dressing is not suitable but where a full depth road reconstruction is not required. The surface is ready for use just hours after application. It improves skid resistance without producing loose chippings and fills small cracks and imperfections in the road surface with a capability to smooth out bumps in the roads.
o Re-surfacing – When a road is so badly damaged for either micro surfacing or surface dressing to be effective we may need to replace the whole surface. Resurfacing involves digging out the worst affected areas or the road surface and laying new hot bituminous material.